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LAHORE: The Punjab Food Authority (PFA) on Saturday shut down production and banned the sale of bottled water from three companies for failing laboratory tests to meet food standards.

The PFA teams had collected samples from 14 bottled-water companies from across Lahore and sent them to the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. The samples were collected after conducting a survey in the city.

The companies whose samples were collected included Kinley, Aquafina, Sufi, Aqua Safe, Sparkle, Blu Water, Zam Zam, Naimat, Kinz, Springley, Nestle Pure Life, Murree Sparkletts, Pure Drinking Water and Bottle Water. The samples were collected from Allama Iqbal Town, Samanabad, Aziz Bhatti Town and Gulberg.

According to lab test reports available with Dawn, all the companies failed to qualify to the standards of ‘mineral water’, and could instead be termed ‘plain or safe’.

14 firms fail to qualify to standards of ‘mineral water’

The reports further revealed that hazardous components and chemicals -- microbiological germs -- unsafe for human health were found in the samples from Kinley, Aquafina and Springley due to which the PFA teams shut down their production.

The teams informed all the companies to remove their stocks from the market by declaring it unfit for human consumption.

On Saturday, representatives of all water companies approached PFA Director General (DG) Noorul Amin Mengal and appealed to re-test the water samples. The officials also requested the DG to allow them to resume production.

Mr Mengal directed them not to resume production or sell their current batches of bottled water without getting a clearance certificate. He said they had a right to appeal against the laboratory results and samples would again be sent to a government and private laboratory for re-examination.

He further said if the companies qualified the food standard they would be allowed to resume production, but if they failed again their premises would also be sealed. The water companies were also violating another PFA rule of labelling bottles with ‘mineral water’, but no company had qualified for the same. He said they would take action and direct the companies to remove the label and mention ‘plain or safe water’ on it.

Mr Mengal added that they had collected samples from water sources of all public and private hospitals as well as Water and Sanitation Agency pumps, and were awaiting their results.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2018